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She asked an older neighbor to watch her pets. His letter of gratitude is everything.

When older people get lonely, interacting with pets can be a game-changer.

Sometimes when we're in the younger, busier time of our lives it's easy to forget—or not even realize—that our elderly friends and neighbors might be lonely. But very often, people who have long been retired, who may have already said goodbye to many of their friends or who have physical limitations that make it difficult to get out to visit people can find themselves alone most of the time. Feelings of loneliness can lead to depression and other health risks, in addition to simply being not very enjoyable.

A viral Reddit post offers a good reminder of this fact, but in the most heartwarming way.

Reddit user u/SnooCupcakes8607 shared a photo of a typed letter with the caption: "I went on a vacation 2 weeks ago, and let my neighbor babysit my pets. Shortly after I got back home, I received this letter from him in the mail that made me smile and cry. I’d like to share it here."


"Good afternoon," the letter begins. "This letter is regarding your vacation two weeks ago, and how you let me babysit Smokey, Oreo, and Jennifer. I'd just like to give you a letter of thanks."

(The letter doesn't specify what kind of pets Smokey, Oreo and Jennifer are, but the original poster later shared that they are a German shepherd, "the crankiest little beagle you’ve seen in your life," and a cat named Oreo.)

Then he continued:

"As you know, I'm an old man. You don't see me outside often anymore, as these joints aren't as lively as they used to be. To add to that, two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, my dad got diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. After his death, I was left alone in my home. I don't have a wife or kids. I could go to sleep one day and never wake up again. Every day is just sitting around and wondering what I have done for this world.

Until I met Smokey, Oreo, and Jennifer.

Your pets are the cutest, funniest, and most troublesome (In a good way, don't worry, they didn't mess up my house too much!) individuals. They gave me the motivation to restart my life again. I started waking up early in the mornings. I began to take walks outside with your pets for the first time in years. Every 10 minutes, whenever I felt sad for a second, they would bark or rub against my leg and make me laugh.

The highlight of their stay was when I took them to the park. It was the longest time I've spend outside in a while. It didn't just bring back pet interaction, I also met other people, started talking, and made friends with a handful of fellow human beings. I was so happy to finally be able to talk with friends again, interact with others, and feel like I'm part of the human race.

I realize I sound very existential right now, but I'm telling the truth. It's nice knowing that I'm doing something for someone, even if it's my neighbor.

I adopted two dogs soon after. (You may have been hearing noise from my home, pardon them!) I now take regular walks to the park with them and talk with friends I made there. Anyways, I'd just like to say: thank you so much. You brought back meaning to my life. And that's all that matters.

Sincerely,

Robert (P.S. I think it's time for you to mow the lawn, haha!)"

People absolutely loved Robert's letter—and Robert himself, judging from some of the comments:

"Robert is a national treasure and I take anything less to be an insult!"

"I wouldn’t just mow my lawn, but Robert’s too. Forever."

"Robert really is the good in all of us. He must be protected at all costs."

Some people related to Robert, having found a new zest for life after getting pets of their own. Others joked that the whole letter was just an elaborate, "Midwest-nice" way to tell the poster their lawn needed attention. Some doubted the veracity of the letter, but even if it's not real, the comments from people sharing how their elderly loved ones had been helped by neighbors sharing their pets with them show that animals really can help people who are lonely find more connection and purpose in their lives.

It's a good reminder to check in with older folks around us and to share the joy of our pets with people who might be lonely. You never know whose life you might touch with your furry friends.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

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Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Something joyful for everyone.

From sleepy pups to smooth skate moves, there's plenty of reasons to smile.

When the internet is full of dreary headlines, it’s even more important to balance it all out with things that spark joy.

Whether it comes from cute kids and animals, amazing art or wholesome acts of kindness, things that make us smile help remind our hearts that the world is indeed a big place, containing both the bad and the good. Sometimes it might take a little extra scouring to find what makes us smile, but Upworthy is here to make the search a little bit easier.

Without further ado, let’s get uplifted:

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Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

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